Unlike Fastpass itself, the Maxpass add-on is not free: Visitors must pay $10 per person per day to add it to a Disneyland Resort ticket, and Annual Passholders must pay $75 to add the feature for the duration of their pass. In addition to providing mobile Fastpass management, the Maxpass service also includes Disney's Photopass service, giving users unlimited downloads of on-ride photos and pictures taken by Disney's Photopass photographers throughout the parks.
So is Maxpass worth the extra money?
Let's start by acknowledging that Disney came up with an awful name for this product. Either Disney didn't have enough women on the team that developed the name, or it's decided that it can live with the incessant "Maxipass" jokes. I guess Turbopass and even Fasterpass were off the table as options, since others had registered those trademarks, but even Fastpass Mobile would have been a better — and more descriptive — name for this service.
If you're a fan of Photopass, Maxpass is a must-get, simply because the new $10 a day charge is less than what Disney had been charging for a one-day Photopass. When does Disney ever cut a price? But it did here, and added functionality, as well. It's a Festivus miracle!
But what if you either don't care about photos, stick with selfies, or are happy to hand your cell phone or camera to a Photopass photographer to take your picture for free, as they are always happy to do? Is the mobile Fastpass management worth the extra $10 a visit?
Of all the upcharges that Disney has offered over the years, I think that Disneyland's Maxpass rates up there with Walt Disney World's Express Transportation as upsells that are most worth the extra cost. Like with Express Transportation, Maxpass allows a visitor to avoid a now-unnecessary hassle that sucked up valuable time in the parks before the new service was available.
To use Maxpass, you must have the (free) official Disneyland app. Then you will need to create an account, log in, and scan or enter the ticket number for each person in your party into the app. You should at least get the app and create the account before visiting Disneyland, and if you have tickets in hand in advance, go ahead and enter that information, as well. You buy Maxpass for an existing ticket or pass through the app (or add it as an option when buying a ticket or pass for the first time), and once it is activated, you use the "Get a Fastpass" link on the app to choose your Fastpass selections for your group.
The app will show you all the available Fastpass return times in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, minus Fanstasmic! and World of Color Fastpasses, which remain "off the grid" and must be obtained in person. In my experience using the app over the past week, I have found many attractions offering return times within 10-20 minutes — about the time it would take me to walk over and get in line anyway. Unlike Walt Disney World's Fastpass+ system, you can make only one reservation at a time with Maxpass. But you can make another one in 30 minutes or upon the start of your return window, whichever is later. And if the start of the return window is greater than two hours, you can go ahead and make your next reservation in two hours, instead.
Keeping track of when you can get another Fastpass is the key to maximizing your value from the system. But with Maxpass and a timer alert on your phone, getting your next reservations becomes ridiculously easy. No more handing over all your tickets to one person to go running across the park when it's time to get another Fastpass. A couple taps on the phone, and you're done.
Also unlike Disney World's Fastpass+, there are no advance reservations available through Maxpass, so everyone starts the day with full inventory available. You don't need to be on Disneyland's wifi network to use the service, but you need to appear to be inside the park to activate it for the day. Maxpass doesn't require you to change your strategy for visiting the parks, but it does allow you to accelerate it.
Before, when a return window opened — allowing you to make another Fastpass reservation — you had to decide whether to go run and get another reservation before heading into the return queue, or riding before getting another Fastpass. Now, you can eat your cake and have it by doing both at once. It's not just that tapping the app to get another Fastpass as you enter a return queue is easy, it's that Maxpass allows you to forget about second-guessing the decision you no longer need to make.
Maxpass allows you to book Fastpass return times on:
And before I forget, allow me to mention one additional benefit of using Maxpass that paid off for our family. One of us dropped his/her admission ticket when exiting a ride. Even though that person (who shall remain nameless) did find the ticket lying on the ground, its loss would not have been as devastating as it would have before, since we'd scanned the ticket into the app. That meant that we could continue to get Fastpasses, and even go from park to park, without having the physical ticket in hand.
So even if you don't spring for Maxpass, do get the app and enter your tickets. It makes losing a physical ticket so much easier to recover from than if you do not take that step.
Again, if you're happy using the traditional, free Fastpass service and not upgrading to Maxpass, that's fine. Just remember if you have not visited recently that you will need to present your park ticket to get into the return queue. Fastpass paper tickets are now just reminders. It's the park ticket that gets you into the return line now. (One more reason to back up your tickets!)
Disneyland has said that the $10 charge for Maxpass is an introductory rate and that the price of the service could rise at some point in the future. However that changes the calculus remains to be seen, but for now, Maxpass is an extra expense worth considering for anyone looking to maximize the number of popular rides they can get on in a single day at the resort.
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